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The Material, the Real, and the Fractured Self

The Material, the Real, and the Fractured Self: Subjectivity and Representation from Rimbaud to Réda

Susan Harrow
  • Book Info
    The Material, the Real, and the Fractured Self
    Book Description:

    InThe Material, the Real, and the Fractured Self, Susan Harrow explores the fascinating interrelation of subjectivity, materiality, and representation in the poetry and related texts of four modern French writers: Arthur Rimbaud, Guillaume Apollinaire, Francis Ponge, and Jacques Réda. She demonstrates the richness and the relevance of modern French poetry for today's readers, putting contemporary thought to work on the fractured self emerging in the post-Baudelairian lyric.

    Harrow addresses the widely perceived marginalization of poetry in the writing/theory debate, demonstrating that the emergence of a self at once shaped by and straining against material, historical, subjective, and cultural impediments reveals fertile relations between theory and poetry. Where purer forms of postmodernist thinking have stressed the dissolution and dispersal of the human subject, new approaches informed by cultural studies, autobiography theory, and gender studies work to recover fictions of experience and retrieve submerged narratives of the self. Probing the activity of textual self-recovery among the debris of history and fantasy, visuality and desire, and culture and corporeality,The Material, the Real, and the Fractured Selfimparts something of the startling beauty and the raw urgency of poetry writing across the broad modern period.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8170-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Research in the humanities continues to probe modern and postmodern subjectivity from a variety of perspectives – postcolonial, feminist, psychoanalytical, sociological, new historical. Where the purer forms of deconstructionist thinking plotted to abolish the human subject, new approaches – in history, ethnography, autobiography theory, psychoanalysis, and gender studies – have worked to recover fictions of experience and retrieve dispersed narratives of the self. The emergence of a self constituted in language, at once shaped by and straining against material, historical, cultural, and linguistic containments, has revealed the fertile relation of contemporary theory to literary narrative in particular. Certainly, in French...

  5. 1 Debris, Mess, and the Modernist Self: Rimbaud from Poésies to the Illuminations
    (pp. 11-61)

    Brimming and brilliant, Rimbaud’s poetry is breathtaking in its expansiveness and mesmerizing in its intensity. Passionately outward-looking, his poetry encompasses history, society, nature, art, geography, aesthetics, the body, religion, revolution, politics, myth, mess, and urban modernity. At the same time, the teeming vividness and raw energy of Rimbaud’s writing bear an affective charge that is revealed in energized descriptions of colour, light, surface, and texture. In Rimbaud’s dazzling mix of thematic capaciousness and verbal concentration, the self emerges at once fractured and extendible, fissiparous and boundless, quivering and blasting: this radically uncentred subjectivity, formed in the pressured and pleasurable displacements...

  6. 2 Material Fragments, Autobiographical Fantasy: Reading Apollinaire’s Calligrammes
    (pp. 62-112)

    Of the poets explored in this book, Apollinaire illustrates most urgently the tension between materiality and subjectivity as the modernist consciousness grapples to make sense of a technologically challenging new world, both in its exhilarating potential and in the pressures it exerts across the range of human experience and activity.¹ The preface-text ofCalligrammes, Apollinaire’s second major collection of poetry, exposes a paradoxical, irremediably fractured self, a self at once in thrall to material modernity and tempted by regressive introspection:

    J’écris seulement pour vous exalter

    Ô sens ô sens chéris

    Ennemis du souvenir

    Ennemis du désir

    Ennemis du regret


  7. 3 From Culture Critique to Poetic Capital: Ponge’s Things-in-Language
    (pp. 113-163)

    Reading subjectivity in Ponge is an inherently problematical exercise, not least because Ponge’s abundant output – poetry, art criticism, critical essays, and interviews – seems to foreclose such a reading. Ponge impresses upon the reader his resistance to writing the subjective, his inclination towardsself-denying Protestantism, his admiration for the rigour and self-restraint of Malherbe; most of all, he impresses us with the resolute outwardness of his poetry, his probing of the material world, and his excursions into rich, unexplored seams of language. If Ponge’s authorial positions and writerly practices have worked actively to inhibit readings of the subjective, the...

  8. 4 Sweeping the (Sub)urban Savannah: Everyday Culture and the Rédean Sublime
    (pp. 164-216)

    The critique of rationalized post-industrial urban space and the celebration of cultural alternatives through inventive praxis (‘arts de faire’) developed by Michel de Certeau and the post-Annalesschool turn fascinated attention to the active agency of the city, its capacity for resistance and for self-transfiguration, and the altering power it exercises over those I shall be referring to as ‘artisans of the everyday.’ The following extract from the essay ‘Les Revenants de la ville,’ co-authored by Certeau and Luce Giard, proposes a metaphorical mapping of the city that is consonant – metaphorically and conceptually – with the urban and suburban...

  9. Summations, Speculations
    (pp. 217-224)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 225-256)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-269)